After all the effusive clamoring and praise for La La Land, I finally broke down and saw that shit yesterday and it was good.
It wasn’t, as you may have heard, a reach back to those Gene Kelly-type Singin’ in the Rain kinda musicals as it was more of a mashup of, say, two Woody Allen vehicles, Annie Hall and Everyone Says I Love You.
The charm the movie holds, I think, is that first, it celebrates Hollywood – and you can never lose money celebrating an industry that loves itself as much as Hollywood, and second, it harkened back to a time when movies had to fight in order to legitimately consider themselves “art”.
Movies were still considered a distraction back then, as books had once been considered a distraction before they became art.
So the bad news is that although Moonlight should sweep everything it’s nominated for, expect a split with La La Land winning for either Best Picture or Best Director.
If I’m Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, I’d probably rather have the latter because the former goes to the producers of the film anyway.
As far as what Moonlight should have “in the bag” as it were, Mahershala Ali could probably knife the Pope and still walk away with Best Supporting Actor.
This won’t be a Norbit year where Eddie Murphy’s decision to star in that High White Note of the lowbrow comedy allegedly cost him the Best Supporting Actor for Dreamgirls, or a year were there’s an attack of the rabid hotel guests like when Russell Crowe’s whose generally boorish behavior is said to have cost him one for either A Beautiful Mind or Master and Commander, I can’t remember which.
No, in frankly one of the 4 finest performances I’ve ever seen by an actor; the others being Marlon Brando’s “Vito Corleone”, Larenz Tate’s “O Dog” and Mickey Rourke’s “Marv”, in Juan, Mahershala Ali simply gave us a character to love.
Juan is the definitive anti-hero; selling the Chiron’s mom crack while shouldering an almost full responsibility as to raising him and being the boy’s sole male role model.
In other news, Viola Davis should take Best Supporting Actress for Fences, though I hate to say it, she doesn’t deserve it.
Sure, she was great, but the movie just more than sucked.
Denzel shouldn’t direct.
He’s too ham-fisted.
That flick shoulda come in at almost a full half hour shorter running time.
What Ms. Davis will probably get is the old – and familiar – “make up Oscar”.
It’s what Al Pacino got for, not The Godfather I or II or Dog Day Afternoon or even – laughing here – Scarface, but for Scent of a Woman.
It’s what Whoopie Goldberg got not for The Color Purple but for Ghost.
And of course, it’s what Sidney Poitier got not for A Raisin in the Sun but for Lillies of the Field.
Ms. Davis should have gotten an Oscar the very first time she was nominated.
That was for 2008’s Doubt.
She stood toe-to-to with the legendary, iconic Meryl Streep in that one and gave even a little bit better than she got and its not like Meryl was slacking at all.
The Academy knew they fucked up with that one.
And if you haven’t seen Doubt but decide now to see it then you’ll know it too.